MILLER: Good band, bad song
It was dazzling, disappointing, chaotic and dramatic all at once as Marcus Ericsson took the Music City GP away from Colton Herta with inspired drive. The crowd in Nashville was massive, impressive, and so patient that 70,000 people stayed there for three hours in the 90 degree heat. We can only hope that newbies won’t judge IndyCar’s product by Sunday, because it was a clunker.
Thirty-three laps of caution in 80 laps, two red flags, and sorry driving made you want to hide. How slow were the fastest open wheel cars in the world? Ray Harroun averaged 74.602 mph in 1911. Over 100 years later, Ericsson won the Nashville course at 72.607 mph. There was no overtaking on the track for the leader. But Scott Dixon came away with a more positive outlook.
“On the parade lap the crowd was crazy, and throughout the weekend the intensity of qualifying and practice … the grandstands were full,” he said.
“What shocked me a bit was that the stadium is right there, all the stairs and all the levels in the stadium were full of people. Say what you want; people were excited about it. They knew what was going on and were in it. Our PNC CEO (Bill Demchak) was there. Yes, there were a lot of warnings and reds, but you could just hear the crowd cheering.
“No matter what was going on, the people in the stands were paying attention and going crazy.”
Dixon and his fellow pilots will make suggestions to track designer Tony Cotman to make the track more racy.
“The track for qualifying was very busy, crazy, fun… but in terms of racing, we have to create racing zones and passing zones,” he said. “If we could extend the track a bit into Turn 4, that would be good. There are other possibilities (where) if we could just open them up and make them a little wider (they could be) passage areas. If you get locked into Turns 1 and 2 you will need some runoff. Yellows breed yellows and yellows breed reds and no one wants to see them.
“Everyone has tips here and there to make it a more racy track, but the event itself turned out amazingly. Of course, there could be improvements on the track, but that is true for many places. To correct the race… there are certainly options, and we can talk about positive solutions to help the track.
Dixon also wants more consistency in the way races are controlled.
“It gets kinda awesome when you create a red and, say, eight people in that crash got their knees back,” he says.
“In a normal race, they would all lose a lap. I felt bad for the next yellow we had as the two people stuck in the tires continued and lost a lap. There has to be some consistency in this scenario. It is not fair. We all want consistency because we knew how to run back then. “
For IndyCar regulars, the first Music City Grand Prix was a 2 on a scale of 10, but these Tennessee fans loved the speed, close contact, and the overall atmosphere and still cheered after nearly three hours. . They will decide the fate of this event in the next two years.
But promoter Scott Borchetta’s years of hard work and dedication finally paid off – not where he originally planned it in Indianapolis, but in his hometown of Nashville where he built a music empire.
“Wow. We did…” Borchetta texted me at 1am after the event. He did everything right, and I just hope he will be rewarded with a long and solid partnership with IndyCar.